Ali al-Marri followed his older brother to central Illinois in the mid-1980s to pursue a business education unavailable in his native Qatar, becoming a Bulls fan and honing his pool-playing skills. He returned for further study more than 10 years later, bringing along his wife and five children.
But Al-Marri's third trip to the area comes under far different circumstances — facing trial on federal charges alleging he supported al-Qaida terrorists. His first court appearance is Monday.
Al-Marri, 43, was arrested in late 2001 while studying at Bradley University in Peoria after federal authorities alleged he was an al-Qaida sleeper agent tied to organizers of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He was a legal U.S. resident but became the only "enemy combatant" in custody on American soil.
He was held without charges for more than five years at a Navy brig in South Carolina.
Then, last month, a federal grand jury in Illinois indicted al-Marri on charges of conspiracy and providing material support to terror.
The scant Feb. 26 indictment offers no details on the long-awaited charges and federal officials are not discussing al-Marri's case.